As a healthcare professional working with kids, I am always concerned about nutritional adequacy for a growing child. Nutritional adequacy is very important to assure that children grow to their fullest potential (both literally and mentally), as well as to assure that they have the energy to do all the things that they want. When I talk about nutritional adequacy, I’m speaking specifically about the components of the food that we eat. This includes the total number of calories, the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in the diet and vitamins and minerals.
When we first began using the SCD at Seattle Children’s Hospital, we paid close attention to the food intake as well as the growth of the children whom we followed. We noted when children appeared to grow well, gain weight, and thrive on the diet. We also examined certain foods that our patients were eating on the SCD and observed that for the most part, patients did take in enough calories, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Vitamin and mineral intakes were also largely sufficient for the majority of children, with the exception of vitamin D. Therefore, for children on the SCD at Seattle Children’s, we recommend supplementing with vitamin D, based on the Institute of Medicine’s dose recommendations.
Despite the fact that the patients we followed appeared to get enough overall calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients in their diet, we still make sure to discuss nutrition adequacy with families and children on the SCD. We have noticed that some patients will focus on a few food types, such as fruits or certain SCD-approved foods, and they may eat a limited diet because they are not used to eating as many (or simply dislike) vegetables or meats. This is not limited to children on the SCD, many children will limit their diets to only the food items they like or in general, be picky eaters.
This can be problematic if not addressed, because focusing on just a few SCD-approved foods can limit the amount of vital micronutrients one takes in. Making this an on-going discussion is important to ensure that your child is taking in enough macro- and micronutrients. This is also why following up with your healthcare provider as well as a registered dietitian who can analyze your child’s nutrient intake is crucial. In addition, focusing on a few SCD-approved foods can sometimes lead to noninflammatory gastrointestinal complaints. This is especially true if your child consumes a lot of fruits and juices; the fructose within these foods, despite its being natural, can lead to bowel discomfort whether a person has IBD or not.
In essence, the SCD diet is nutritionally adequate, as long as you and your team are making sure your child is getting enough food and that food is varied.
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